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By John Yunker

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    I’m pleased to announce that The Tourist Trail won the Popular Fiction category of the 2012 IndieReaders Awards. Here’s a brief Q&A I conducted about the book.

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  • 06/30/12--14:16: Invisible battles
  • In the US, we see our share of environmental battles. But more often than not these battles are waged in courtrooms and in the media. In poorer countries, these battles are waged on the land itself, with few witnesses, and they are increasingly fatal. According to the group Global Witness, activists and locals who are [...]

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    Just when I begin to think that wiser heads will prevail around the world and whale hunting will become a thing of the past, another country decides to revive its whaling industry. This time the country is South Korea. According to the New York Times, South Korea wants to start whaling again using the same [...]

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  • 07/13/12--16:17: Bycatch
  • In The Tourist Trail, the word bycatch gets tossed around a bit. Fisherman use the word to refer to the marine creatures unintentially caught in nets and on longlines. Creatures like sharks, whales, and even penguins. The word has always bothered me in how it trivializes the lives of those unintended targets. I read yesterday [...]

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    This is about as close to a humpback whale as I’ve come. In the waters off the Antarctic Peninsula. These are good waters for a whale, rich in food and largely devoid of ships. Whales, for reasons we still don’t understand, are often injured by ships. And as large as whales are, they are no [...]

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      I came across this article in the NY Times and can’t get it out of my head. Photographer Chris Jordan has devoted himself to taking pictures of birds living and dead on Midway Atoll in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. These small islands are the breeding ground for many bird species but [...]

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    If you’ve seen the movie Sharkwater then you know that sharks around the world are suffering. Despite the media’s obsession over those rare shark attacks against humans, the reality is that humans are eradicating sharks from the oceans — killing as many as 73 million a year. All because of shark fin soup. So it was nice to [...]

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  • 10/24/12--07:42: The foxes of San Juan Island
  • We have foxes here in Ashland but they’re very skittish and I’ve only seen them at night (and fleetingly). But on San Juan Island in a protected area known as American Camp, foxes are quite accustomed to us tourists. I discovered recently that tourists sometimes feed the foxes, which probably explains why. And while I [...]

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    Tourism and its impact on endangered species is, not surprisingly, one of the themes of The Tourist Trail. It’s not a simple issue. In the case of the Magellanic penguin colony at Punta Tombo, more than 100,000 tourists now visit the site annually, which can (and sometimes does) overwhelm the birds. But the fact that so [...]

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  • 12/19/12--19:44: The Half-Skinned Steer
  • At Ashland Creek Press, we’re in the early stages of putting together an anthology of short stories that focus on “how the lives of animals and humans intersect, particularly in regards to the conservation and protection of animals.” And so far we’ve been amazed by the quality and number of submissions received. But if there [...]

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    As I’ve written about previously, categorizing The Tourist Trail has been no simple task. Although there are surprises, suspense, and plenty of action, I would not categorize the book as a “thriller” or “action & adventure” novel. But I also don’t feel that the book fits comfortably in the “literary fiction” category. After all, literary [...]

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  • 01/15/13--16:15: The Whale Whisperer
  • Down in southern Argentina on the coast of Peninsula Valdez there is a phenomenon that has to be seen to be believed. The orcas have developed a unique way of going after sea lions and elephant seals. The first half of this video may be difficult to watch at times but the second half makes up for it. The park [...]

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    I can’t say I’m surprised this day would come. When I began writing The Tourist Trail in 2008 I envisioned the FBI going after the leader of a fictional anti-whaling group. At the time, the US was largely neutral about the goings-on in the Southern Ocean. This was a matter between the Sea Shepherd and [...]

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    Amazing. Namibian Nights from Squiver on Vimeo.

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    I’m looking forward to this documentary on Orcas later this year. I hope it gets attention and wakes up the world to the horrible treatment that these creatures undergo at places like SeaWorld. Imagine spending your life in a bathtub. That’s the life they live, if you can call it that. The film, which will [...]

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    From a Paris Review interview with William Faulkner: INTERVIEWER Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them? FAULKNER Read it four times. Link

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    From The New York Times: Most Japanese consumers have turned away from whale meat. The industry shipped just 5,000 tons in 2011, compared with 233,000 tons at the peak in 1962, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Demand this year is so low that the industry has cut its planned [...]

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    I no longer visit zoos. I can no longer stand to see animals pacing and suffering in such cramped cages. And if I had my way most zoos would probably not exist (certainly not as they exist now). But then I read about initiatives like the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife and I realize that some [...]

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  • 04/14/13--14:38: Introducing EcoLit Books
  • I wrote awhile back about the emergence of eco-literature. Since then, I’ve seen more publishers awakening to eco-literature, but I’ve long wanted there to be a website that highlighted and reviewed these new titles. So now we have EcoLit Books. EcoLit Books is dedicated to books with environmental and animal rights themes. And it’s devoted to gathering both [...]

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    The Animal Legal Defense Fund has a book club and The Tourist Trail is featured this month. You can read the review here and you can sign up to win a free copy of the book. This is an amazing organization. Please check them out and learn all the ways they work to protect animals. [...]

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